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5 Steps To Turn Your Blog Posts Into An Online Course

How to create an online course with the help of your blog

- | 50 Aha! comments | Posted in category: Blogging & Making Money

5 steps to turn your blog posts into an online course
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Creating your online course can be one of the best ways to increase revenue.

Courses can be your ticket to freedom as you earn an income without relying on payment tied to hours.

Many business owners are aware that courses have a great deal of profit potential and they’re eager to cash in.

But many hesitate, even though they’re highly qualified professionals who have considerable knowledge to share.

They can’t carve out a big block of time. And even if they’re prolific content curators, developing a solid course can seem daunting.

The truth is, these obstacles don’t have to hold anyone back. Many business owners have become familiar with the notion of “blog to book,” where they create a small bite of content at a time and get feedback along the way.

This article shows you how to do something similar for creating your first next and best course.

Anything that is worth teaching can be presented in many different ways. These multiple ways can make use of our multiple intelligences. ~ Howard Gardner

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How Online Courses Will Help Grow Your Business

Course creation has many synergies related to service businesses.

It’s not unusual for students to move from your courses to your higher-paid coaching and consulting. They’ve gained some valuable insight, and they know what you’re capable of offering.

In addition to generating revenue, your course helps you achieve two other business goals:

1) You get established as a credible, trustworthy source

Publishing a blog demonstrates your expertise and commitment. Your ability to produce high-quality content consistently, on your chosen topic, shows that you know your subject.

In this way, you level the playing field when you’re competing against more experienced business owners while you’re building up testimonials and word of mouth.

When you publish a course, your credibility goes sky-high. You show confidence: you’re willing to step into the spotlight as an expert.

Your content seals the deal: only an expert can take complex concepts and make them seem simple.

2) Your course gives you exposure to a broader audience

Those who follow blogs will be quite different from those who take courses, even online courses.

Blogs – even those most finely targeted – cover a range of topics. In contrast, signing up for a course is a one-off decision for students who want a specific solution to a problem.

I come to writing the same way I come to teaching, which is that my goal is always to create life-long readers. ~ Rick Riordan

Why Course Creation Can Feel Overwhelming

Developing a course can seem like a lot of work. In particular, the challenge of writing content for a whole course can be pretty daunting.

Even if you’re an experienced teacher and presenter, you might wonder where you’ll find the time.

The good news is, you probably already have a lot of material in your blog, and you can use this content to create your course painlessly.

More importantly, you can use your blog to blog your way to your course, much as authors use the blog-to-book method.

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Blogging a course helps you overcome the biggest obstacle to creating the course. You create content one post at a time. Additionally, while creating your course, you’re building your platform as an expert and attracting a following of loyal fans.

You also test your ideas as you go. Posts that get attention can lead to course modules that will attract students to sign up and pay for your course.

Posts that get comments will keep students engaged, a good sign that they’ll finish the course and recommend it to others.

An apple placed on books and a blog building quote above it

 

Here are five steps to blog your way to a course.

Step 1: The Course Profitability Plan

Your first step is to create profitability plan for your course. Many business owners develop a course topic based on their own interests, but in fact, your profitability will be based on what your audience wants and needs.

When you begin with a profitability plan, you increase your chances of developing a course that will attract paying students.

Your profitability plan helps you create a course that is unique, valuable and even necessary to your students. You answer a need in the marketplace.

Begin by recognizing that your blog ideally focuses on teaching your readers something they need to learn. All too many business owners include posts on self-expression, rants, and personal history.

On a blog, these posts might be only a mild distraction.  But when you’re blogging for a course, you need posts directly related to solving problems — or, even better, getting your readers to solve problems.

The key is to find a problem that many other courses have solved. A crowded marketplace is a sign that you’ve hit a nerve. Your challenge will be to differentiate your course from the competition.

Resist the temptation to be creative about your topic. You can be as creative as you like when you deliver and market your course.

When you skip this step (and it’s all too tempting to jump right in and create content), you risk spending many hours developing a course that’s brilliant but doesn’t attract students.

Let’s look at some examples.

Tom is a food blogger. He gets lots of questions about how to create delicious family meals without going overboard on sugar and carbs.

He’s also noticing that many of his friends don’t seem to know the basics of kitchen safety. They don’t wrap food properly and they leave everything in the fridge way too long, risking indigestion and worse.

So Tom might consider a course on creating healthy meals or learning kitchen safety basics. But he needs a closer look at those topics. There’s no competition out there.

So Tom goes to the Internet to search for a course. He also goes to Udemy and searches on food courses.

Tom soon discovers the most popular food courses seem to be related to weight loss, a category he wants to avoid. But he notices that courses on fitness and health often include a section on food.

He sees a few courses on “Eating for Energy.” That’s something he can relate to. He now needs to put a spin on the topic and specialize. One idea that deserves further exploration: “How Entrepreneurs Can Be More Productive By Eating For Energy.”

Marilyn blogs on relationships and dating. Her research turns up courses on “Surviving Your First Date.” But she doesn’t want to get lost in the crowd. She narrows down her topic to “Surviving Your First Date After The Divorce.”

She knows many women will take her course even if they’re not newly divorced. Some will be newly widowed; others will be experiencing transitions like moving and career change.

Before going further, Tom and Marilyn would each list benefits and features of their courses. In fact, it’s a good idea to draft a sales letter and/or promotion video. That way you focus from the beginning on what your buyers want.

You can set up your content to meet the expectations you create in your sales letter – much easier than digging into your content to find sales hooks.

Step 2: Develop a course blogging sequence

Outline your course by identifying no more than 12 major sections, also known as modules. Today’s courses tend to be short, so you’ll need to plan no more than 12 modules.

Your outline looks like this:

Section or Module 1
Sub-Topic 1. Introduction. Explanation. Example.
Sub-Topic 2. Introduction. Explanation. Example.
Sub-Topic 3. Introduction. Explanation. Example.

Section or Module 2
Sub-Topic 1. Introduction. Explanation. Example.
Sub-Topic 2. Introduction. Explanation. Example.
Sub-Topic 3. Introduction. Explanation. Example.

Unlike book chapters, course modules tend to be brief and interactive. Be ruthless! Cut out the theory, background and reflection.

Now plan how you will set up your blog. How often will you publish content? How will you announce your content?

Continuing our examples, Tom’s outline might look like:

Module 1: Energy Menu Planning: Add 2 Hours To Your Day
Sub-Topic 1.
Introduction: How breakfast can fuel your energy through the whole day.
Explanation: Why eating these foods for breakfast will increase your energy (and what foods drain your energy).
Example: Story of how one of Tom’s clients changed his breakfast menu and now stays awake through those late afternoon meetings

Marilyn’s first module:

Module 1: Why It’s Normal To Be Terrified When You Re-Enter The World of Dating
Sub-Topic 1.
Introduction: What you bring to your first date, emotionally and mentally, makes a difference in the outcome.
Explanation. Psychological research shows that most people prepare inadequately for first dates.
Example: Story of Marilyn’s client who faced her first date after 20 years of marriage.

Stephen Covey quote - I believe in this concept that you learn by teaching

Step 3: Begin writing blog posts

Now that you’ve planned your idea and your blog, you’re ready to begin blogging for your course. I recommend setting up each post as a portion of your future course.

You’ll introduce your content to your readers and get their reactions. Some of your readers will become fans, who will follow you from week to week as you develop your course. Set each post to about 500 words.

You can encourage readers to follow along by presenting your blog posts as a series. As you finish each post, say, “And we’ll be continuing this theme in the next post, coming on Thursday.” And if you realize you’d be more effective by re-arranging your topics, no problem! You can do that later.

Don’t worry about giving away the course material. Readers rarely remember what they read in detail, and the material will appear quite different when you present it on video or webinar.

Remember that as you build loyalty, you’re also creating a potential audience who can be invited to purchase the final course in beta version so that you can get reviews and suggestions for improvement.

Include a call to action after every post, inviting comments. Invite readers to send you emails with messages or provide a Survey Monkey opportunity.

The more involvement you create among your readers, the more likely they’ll want to follow up with a purchase.

For example, Tom might write a single post on “How breakfast will keep you going as you survive a day of meetings.” Marilyn might write a post just focusing on a story about a 45-year-old woman facing her first date in 20 years.

Your post can be on any component of your course, and it’s better to have too many than too few. We’ll see why in the next step.

Step 4: Move your blog posts to your course delivery medium

For most online courses, your delivery system will involve video. You might set up a “talking head” video, where you appear yourself, speaking to your audience. This method works to create a sense of connection with your audience, but it can be boring when it’s overdone.

Additionally, when you’re on camera, your audience pays attention to every detail of your appearance and style – far more than they would in person. There’s a good reason professional actors insist on special lighting and camera angles.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to vary your presentation style. Include some PowerPoint videos to break things up. Many people see PowerPoint as boring, but that’s because they haven’t explored the capabilities of PowerPoint.

You can add lots of graphics, introduce a font that’s not standard PowerPoint, and create your own theme. Use visual software like Canva to create surprising visual effects.

For even more variety, use animated video software with cartoon characters and moving text. Add some upbeat music a few segments to create variety.

Now here’s where your blog posts will help you the most. You can turn your posts into voiceovers for your videos. You’ll probably want to make some changes.

Although we’re often advised to “Write the way you talk,” the reality is that words come across very differently in print and in spoken form.

And we haven’t even come to the best part. You can cut and paste your blog posts into a new document (or get your assistant to do this for you).

Create a PDF document that becomes a guidebook for your course and offer it as a bonus. Get a budget designer to add some formatting and graphics and you’ve added significant value to your offer.

Do you have extra posts that don’t seem to fit into your course after you start recording? Or perhaps you have related materials archived in older posts, related directly to your topic.

Terrific! You’ve got bonus material, ready-made, that will delight your readers.

Step 5: Use your blog posts to market your new course

Continue blogging after you’ve completed your course and marketed the finished product to your audience. In particular, use your blog posts to take advantage of social media.

When you tweet or post on Facebook or LinkedIn, send your audience to one of your blog posts rather than a sales page. You can include links at the bottom of your post, referring readers to your course or to a lead magnet that ties directly to your course.

In fact, you can use one of your blog posts as a lead magnet, with a blurb to refer readers to the whole course.

Wrapping It Up

And there you have it: a straightforward way to create your online course with the help of your blog. You have no more excuses: you can begin creating your course right away and start enjoying the benefits while you continue serving your clients.

You are ready to set yourself up for success as a profitable, prolific course creator. Just follow these five steps:

> creating your profitability plan
> planning your blogging sequence
> writing the posts
> moving to your course delivery medium
> marketing your new course with your blog posts

When you follow these steps, your marketing will unfold easily as you publish your course.

Teaching is the royal road to learning. ~ Jessamyn West

Over to you –

The beauty of this system is, you can get started today! Even if you have just the germ of an idea, you can start blogging now. Would you turn your blog posts into an online course?

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Show Comments

50 Comments - Read and share thoughts

  1. Joy Healey

    August 15, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Cathy,

    I was very interested in this topic because it’s fitting in with my current mission of repurposing my blog posts to get more value from them.

    As a part-time blogger I don’t have a lot of spare time so I’m working through some posts that I really want my audience to relate to – and turning them into videos using PowerPoint (as I’m too nervous to do full-face camera).

    Not sure if I would ever have the time to turn those into a course, The truth is I’d never even thought of it until now. Interesting idea.

    I can really relate to the Stephen Covey quote about learning by teaching. I have made several mistakes through my blogging career but make it a point to turn those lessons into blog posts. Doing so means I have to research more around the topic and I always learn even more from the comments people leave for me.

    Some really great and actionable tips. Thanks.

    Joy – Blogging After Dark

  2. Sarvesh Shrivastava

    May 8, 2016 at 6:21 pm

    Hey Cathy,

    You have mentioned some really good points in the article. Completely agree with them.

    On the other hand, I feel, establishing your credibility is very important before you launch a course. You are going to be successful in selling the course only if your audience trusts you completely.

    So, aim for the trust of your readers and you’ll see the cash flowing in pretty soon. 🙂

  3. Cathy Goodwin

    March 26, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Max,
    The decision to develop a course isn’t always straightforward. You’d need to be sure there is a market at that price point. You can price a customized program differently from a course. It’s an intriguing question.Some marketers have addressed the topic of being an online guest, so you can check the competition for other services and courses.

  4. Maxwell Ivey

    March 26, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Hi Cathy; After reading this, I’ve got a lot of ideas running through my head. I have had many people ask me about how I get booked on radio shows and podcasts. I created an online audio course for it, but it hasn’t sold. I’m not sure if its lack of promotion or that like you said there really isn’t a market for it. However, I recently asked other bloggers about offering a service where I would help them with their pitch email, media kit, finding shows, and sending out the pitch emails for a given period of time say 90 days. People said that not only do they believe there is a market for such a service but that a fee of $997 per client wouldn’t be out of line. So, I’m trying to decide if I should be doing a course or offering a service or some combination of the two. It seems to me that there are people who would want to learn how while there are others who would want someone to do all the work for them. I would love to hear your thoughts. I know that sharing my story on podcasts and radio shows has been emotionally rewarding and a free way to promote my business without having to navigate the logistics of traveling to take part in face to face events. As a blind person this is a big part of why I have embraced using these shows so whole heartedly. i believe they can be a good fit for busy business owners and want to bees because again they don’t require as much interruption to their regular work day as other opportunities for promotion/networking. thanks for your post. Its got me thinking. take care now, Max

  5. Kaustav Banerjee

    March 17, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Really nice write-up Cathy. As a blogger, I really enjoyed reading the article.
    The points are really interesting. I have never come up with points like this. Thanks for shedding some light.
    Also, the video making tips were great!

  6. Lisa

    February 10, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Love your article Cathy! I had not thought about creating a course using this method before.
    I have come a little close by creating a free PDF giveaway of my top blog posts in a specific topic area.
    But I love your idea! You made it clear and simple to implement too!
    My first thought was, why would someone pay for content they can get for free?
    Glad you brought up the fact that people don’t remember exactly what they read in blogs. That validates the ability to use the content for a course.
    Thanks again.Lisa

  7. Tony B

    February 10, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    Coolio post Cathy,

    taking the purpose seen to the eighth degree. So very true there’s a lot of great contents backed up on our blogs we can be purpose and easily create user-friendly courses for. What a great way to create a quick easy optin too.

  8. Mi Muba

    February 5, 2016 at 11:35 pm

    Hi Cathy
    Idea is really brilliant and one can call it the height of diversity by first creating a curtain raiser of an online course by writing a blog post and then converting it into the main product.

    Main medium of the course as either a presentation, an e-learning package or a Udemy kind of course would equally play the decisive role for the very success of this idea.

    Many bloggers simply add up all the posts of same category and place them as a freebie to build their email list and it can work upto this level but for earning money one has to go beyond this easy level and entirely repurpose a blog post by adding a lot of value in it to make it a full-fledged product.

    All the tips you mentioned in this post are very relevant and have the power to create a product that really sells like a hot cake.

    Many thanks for sharing and have a super fabulous weekend ahead.

  9. Dennis Seymour

    February 3, 2016 at 2:00 pm

    I’m in the middle of course creation. Loved reading the content of this post. Any help I could get is awesome.

    It’s taking me longer than I expected LOL 🙂

    • Cathy goodwin

      February 4, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Thanks, Dennis! Courses do take work. Glad this could help.

  10. Gurunath

    February 1, 2016 at 11:40 am

    Hi Cathy, Nice to meet you here… First of all congrats on making the guest article on Harleena’s blog. 🙂
    I never thought of starting a course but by reading this awesome article of yours, decided to give it a try.Thank you so much for sharing what exactly we want to do. I’m going to save this in my bookmarks and use it as a guide for my future help in creating an online course.
    Harleena, thank you for inviting Cathy to share this here with us..:)

  11. Cathy Goodwin

    January 29, 2016 at 1:01 am

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for the comment! Blogging for instruction definitely can be a goal! A course has a different purpose.

    Cathy

  12. Jonathan Dradford

    January 28, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    This must be the goal of all bloggers. Since most of the time, we resort to blogging to show what we have got, then why not make it an instructional materials rather then just messy wanderings.




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5 Steps To Turn Your Blog Posts Into An Online Course

by Cathy Goodwin time to read: 9 min